We packed a lot into our long weekend in Chicago! The theater, museums, a Cubs game, rooftop bars, walks along Lake Shore Drive, and a river cruise all enjoyed in the midst of a crazy nationwide heat wave.
We left Pittsburgh around 10 a.m. and made it to Hilton’s Magnificent Mile Suites by 6. Our progress was slowed a bit because we had to make some stops for our traveling companion, Dot. (Since this was a spur of the moment trip, our usual sitter wasn’t available. Luckily, Dottie is a good traveler and hotels are a lot more accommodating than they used to be. The Hilton charged just $75 additional for the entire four-night stay.)
Once we got Dot situated, we set out to explore. Our hotel was just off of Michigan Avenue, or the Magnificent Mile, which is renowned for its upscale shopping. (Chicago’s version of Fifth Avenue, maybe?) The first item on the Chicago must-do list was deep dish pizza! Bella Bacino was recommended to us by our daughter’s friend who lives in the city. After a pleasant half-mile walk (the Sahara-like temperatures hadn’t arrived yet), we snagged a table on the sidewalk overlooking the Chicago River. My usual go-to pizza is Neapolitan-style from the Jersey shore and I was afraid the pies in Chicago might have more in common with the thick, overly bread-y Sicilian’s I’ve tried. Not so! Yes, it’s a thick slab of pizza, but instead of gobs of bread you get gobs of cheese! Perfection!
We also loved Bella Bacino’s sun-dried tomato focaccia bread (which I plan to try making myself one day and will share in a future post if it’s any good!)
The next morning we got up early trying to beat the heat for a walk along Lake Michigan. There was no beating the heat, but we did get a good workout along the wide paved promenade and enjoyed beautiful views of the city.
In the afternoon, we headed back to the Chicago River to take the best tour in the city (according to TripAdvisor), the First Lady River Cruise. The 90-minute tour is narrated by volunteer docents from Chicago’s Architecture Foundation and highlights the most important buildings here in the birthplace of the skyscraper. Does that sound as dry as dust? Somehow, it wasn’t. Our guy’s enthusiasm was infectious and the soaring buildings are even more impressive when you hear the stories behind them. My two favorites were 150 N. Riverside, which balances on a wedge-shaped base:
and River Point, which features arched cutouts at the top and bottom.
Chicago isn’t the most walkable city in the world because it’s huge! 227 square miles vs. Pittsburgh’s cozy 55. But it is laid out in a grid (Pittsburgh, not so much) and it’s flat (Pittsburgh, hahahahaha). From our location on the Magnificient Mile, everything we wanted to see (with the exception of Wrigley Field) was less than a mile away, which for us is walkable. We hoofed it to the Art Institute of Chicago, Millennium Park, and the American Writers Museum. To get to the Cubs game, we took the L and the night we saw Hamilton we used Uber, but only because the heat index was 100 F and I was wearing heels.
We had a great time in this fabulous friendly city.
Until next time Chicago!